A guide to the neighbourhoods of Amsterdam
September 26th, 2017
Moving to Amsterdam? Here's a guided tour through the best parts of the Dutch capital, which remains one of Europe's best cities to live in.
"…an Amsterdam canal in the summer is paradise.’’ – Elyssa Downs, British, Amsterdam
With some 100km of canals and more bicycles than residents, Amsterdam’s scenic and quirky center offers a diverse living experience for its dynamic population. More than 170 nationalities make up around 50 percent of the city’s residents. There are many distinct neighborhoods densely packed together and competition for housing is fierce. An estimated average rental price in 2015 was around EUR 20 per sq.
Amsterdam is expected to have a population of 850,000 by 2025. This growth will be made possible by new residential developments: IJburg and Zeeburgereiland in Oost, and Bongerd and Overhoeks in Noord; these neighborhoods offered some of the most modern, spacious deals in 2015.
"My husband and I moved to Amsterdam with high expectations about living in a vibrant, international, liberal and tolerant place. So far I haven't been disappointed." – Aliye Kurt-Suedhoff, Turkish-Canadian, Amsterdam
Where to live in Amsterdam
Centre and canals
In the center, apartments veer towards snug rather than spacious and stairs are steep. Prices on the canal ring (grachtengordel) lined with 17th- and 18th-century houses are vertiginous, although many expats enjoy the ‘typically Dutch’ experience in grandeur surrounds.
This district just west of the grachtengordel and north of Amsterdam’s shopping district is an exceptionally desirable neighborhood. Its beautiful canals and quirky, narrow streets are occupied by a bohemian mixture of yuppies and expats, with a core of young families and business-owning locals. Prices have exploded in recent years and in terms of price per square meter, it offers poor value and accommodation is often cramped. In the bordering district of Westerpark, housing development on former industrial sites have filled the need for affordable three to four bedroom houses, with the benefit of a huge park nearby.
Directly south of the center lies the regenerated ‘Pijp’, or so-called Latin Quarter, which is a vibrant, funky neighborhood that has benefited from government regeneration and initiatives to increase private-home ownership opportunities, to the benefit of many expats. Rising prices reflect its newfound status as a desired neighborhood among Dutch college students, creative professionals and artists.
Oud-Zuid is a popular upmarket location for expats with easy access to international schools, the Vondelpark and spacious, privately-owned housing. This is a wealthy part of the city, and its demographics have supported its uptown spirit for decades. There’s a leafy, gracious-living feel with cafes and shopping streets to match. Duivelseiland is one desirable part with apartment accommodation, numerous cafes and market shops.
Past De Pijp on the other side of the Amstel river is Oost and Indische Buurt. Things were cheaper here until a gentrification movement of young professionals and creative experts introduced trendy cafes and shops and spiked rental and housing prices. Still, the bonus of the river, newly-renovated Oosterpark, and the area's proximity to nature reserves and rivers make this zone very appealing to a wide variety of Amsterdam dwellers. From students to internationals, young families to retirees, expats to long-time residents, Oost side is a melting pot of culture.
West of the Vondelpark is Oud West, similar to Oost in demographics, where housing is cheaper (and smaller) yet very popular with expats, particularly districts such as Helmersbuurt, which is a little more urban and edgy than Oud-Zuid and not as expensive for buyers. As an up-and-coming area of the city it’s an exciting place to be, and prices are rising as bars and shops make way for renovations and new neighbours.
Zeeburg, KNSM and Docklands
Behind Centraal Station lies a very different Amsterdam. Zeeburg (which comprises Oostelijk Havengebeid, the Indische Buurt and the new islands of Ijburg) offers architecturally interesting surroundings in one of Amsterdam’s hottest development areas. It’s a little less family friendly, but a growing area. Further west and growing in popularity are KNSM Island and the Eastern Docklands. This former working port established on four artificial island peninsulas is becoming home to locals and expats who enjoy their modern accommodation options with a twist of traditional Dutch streetscapes and buildings. The area offers more space for your housing budget, while remaining easily accessible to central Amsterdam.
“Cycling along the canals to work is a daily joy. What a difference from the misery of London commuting!” – C.F., British, Amsterdam
International residents: 50.6 percent
Amsterdam International Community School
Annexe du Lycée Français Vincent van Gogh
British School of Amsterdam
International School Amsterdam (in Amstelveen)
The Japanese School of Amsterdam